SPOILER ALERT: Stop reading if you have yet to see Part Four of Torchwood: Children of Earth. Everyone else, onward and downward… Backlash shmacklash. That’s Torchwood creator Russell T. Davies’ reaction to the outcry over the shocking death of Gareth David-Lloyd’s much-loved Ianto in the BBC America miniseries Children of Earth. “It’s not a backlash really,” he scoffs. “It’s just a few people posting online.” Those few people may want to fasten their seat belts, ‘cause the unapologetic Brit behind the original Queer as Folk also has some strong opinions about why Ianto had to die, what TV show pissed off fans should watch instead (hint: see headline above), and where Torchwood goes from here.
Question: Why’d you kill Ianto?
RUSSELL T. DAVIES: The threat to the world was just so great it simply would have been unlikely if everyone had survived. Torchwood is an adult show. We have killed off leading members of the cast before. Those have always been the stakes. Poor Ianto was defeated by a greater evil, I’m afraid.
Question: So this wasn’t something that resulted from Gareth wanting to leave?
DAVIES: No, it was my decision.
Question: What do you make of the fan backlash?
DAVIES: It’s not particularly a backlash. What’s actually happening is, well, nothing really to be honest. It’s a few people posting online and getting fans upset. Which is marvelous. It just goes to prove how much they love the character and the actor. People often say, ‘Fans have got their knives out!’ They haven’t got any knives. I haven’t been stabbed. Nothing’s happened. It’s simply a few people typing. I’m glad they’re typing because they’re that involved. But if you can’t handle drama you shouldn’t watch it. Find something else. Go look at poetry. Poetry’s wonderful.
Question: Can you confirm that Ianto is, in fact, dead?
DAVIES: I’m afraid so. He’s a wonderful actor. I’ve worked with him before. I’m a big fan of his and I [look forward to] watching his career prosper. But death is death in this case. It would devalue the entire plot if we brought him back.
Question: But it’s a risky thing to kill off such a popular character.
DAVIES: Absolutely. There’s a risk that some people won’t come back to watch now that Ianto’s gone. I thank them for watching the show and I recommend they go watch Supernatural, because those boys are beautiful. And don’t tell me they’re brothers. [Laughs] Not in my mind.
Question: One of my readers wondered if you were under pressure to de-gay Torchwood and that’s why you killed him off.
DAVIES: I think you can forget about people picking up gay rights as an issue. It’s rather like children picking up nursery blocks and waving them in the air but having no idea what it entails. We’re talking about issues in my entire life here, not just one small television program. If they did research they’d go and look at the history of gay and lesbian characters that I have put on screen. They should simply grow up, do some research, and stop riding on a bandwagon that they actually don’t know anything about.
Question: What was Gareth’s reaction when you told him you were killing Ianto?
DAVIES: Oh, he’s a lovely, professional man. He completely understood. He’d seen two major characters disappear the year before. It’s a job. It’s a very straightforward process. He loved filming that great big death scene.
Question: With half the cast dead, where does Torchwood go from here?
DAVIES: We don’t yet know about our fourth series, but I’m fairly confident [it will continue] in some shape or form. I will just sit down and invent new stories and characters. That’s what I’ve spent my entire life doing. It’s not difficult at all. I could write the first 10 scenes in an episode right now.
Question: Will Jack continue to be the centerpiece?
DAVIES: Oh, I would think so. I would hope so. He’s absolutely fundamental to Torchwood.
Question: Do you think you’ll stick to the miniseries format?
DAVIES: It’s hard to say. It’s been pretty successful. We were the number one show for five nights running [in the UK], which was amazing. Everything’s looking good, but it’s hard to say. We’re in a recession so no one gets easy money to make television. I like continuous story. I like doing new things. In many ways, Torchwood was designed as a digital weapon. It’s kind of multi-purpose, multi-adaptable, shape-shifting weapon that can become anything. I’m kind of excited what we’ll do next.
Question: What about a feature film?
DAVIES: Oh, God. Raising money for that would be harder than a television show. But anything is possible.
Question: Any hints about where the story will go next?
DAVIES: No, it’s literally too soon. I don’t know yet.